Using Twitter in lectures, classes and workshops

In Incorporating the Twitter backchannel in a presentation we looked at how to include the Twitter backchannel in a presentation for event.  Most of that is relevant here, but additionally we want to look at its wider use in the lecture hall, classroom or workshop, in particular for supporting more class participation inside and outside the classroom.

“Inside the classroom” does mean letting students use laptops and other mobile devices in the lecture hall or classroom, which may be something that many professors, teachers or academics are not used to.  If however, it is the institution’s policy not to allow this (and can’t be changed), then Twitter can still be used “outside the classroom” for pre-,post- and in between class activities to add value to the class itself.


Activities might include:

  • The professor/lecturer/teacher/trainer introducing the lesson, i.e. explaining what’s going to be discussed/covered in the class
  • The students/learners submitting questions for discussion in advance before class

During the class

In addition to using the backchannel for the presentation (see previous page):

  • Display the pre-class tweets/discussion that has been taken place and that should take place
  • Display the in-class tweets to keep the discussion going

Post-class and between classes

Activities might include

  • Posting notes after the class, for those who missed the class
  • Continuing the discussion, especially if out of time during class, as well as keeping the students/learners communicating with one another.
  • Dealing with students’ individual questions
  • Sharing links to relevant resources and websites that pertain to the lesson.
  • Students share their experiences of what they have done and are doing
  • Sending out reminders about upcoming tests, project due dates, or any course/class-related news


Twitter is a great tool as a backchannel for a course, class or conversation. But it might be a good idea to set up a separate Twitter account for a class or training event – this helps to keep all tweets organised).  Ask the students to follow this class account.  You will then be able to see all the followers of this account listed on the class profile.

It is also useful to use a dedicated hashtag for the whole programme as well as individual hashtags as for different classes or weeks, e.g. #class and #class1 #class2 #class3 etc to keep. Ask the students to use the relevant hashtag(s) in all their tweets.

Sharing course resources

You can also use some of the 3rd party apps to share resources with your students on Twitter, as described in Sharing links and resources.

Twitter groups

If you prefer to set up something more private, so that everyone can tweet privately, consider using:

  • GroupTweet – This turns a standard Twitter account into a group communication hub where members can post updates to everyone in the group using
    direct messages. When the group account receives a direct message from a group member, GroupTweet converts it into a tweet that all followers can see.
  • SavorChat – This  is a very simple FREE group chat application for Facebook and Twitter use.  Just sign in with your Twitter account.>

Examples of use of Twitter in the class/lecture room

Monika Rankin’s well-publicised “Twitter experiment” at UT Dallas is documented in this article: The Twitter experiment at UT Dallas, and the video below.

Twitter in a Los Angeles classroom is another video showing how one high school classroom uses Twitter.

Jane Hart’s experience of using Twitter in a face-to-face Workshop is documented here: Using Twitter in a face-to-face Workshop

Other examples include

Further reading

Backchannel learning in an organizational setting, Dave Kelly, eLearn Magazine, August 2011

Teaching lifelong learning skills with Twitter: a lesson for leaders, Michelle Pacansky-Brock, 10 June 2011

5 unique uses of Twitter in the classroom, Ryan Little, US News, Education, 24 May 2011

Speaking up in class, silently, using social media, The New York Times, 12 May  2011

Twittering classes for teachers, The Guardian, 9 May 2011

Twitter in education, what next? presentation by Dave Hopkins, 11 September 2010

Get your students talking about what you want them to talk about, Kevin Jarrett and Mary Ann Devine, NJEA,

5 Examples of How Schools Are Using Social Media to Enhance Learning. buzzmarketing daily, 5 March 2010

Social network tweets to classes, Liau Yun Qing, ZDNet Asia, 5 February 2010

7 things you should know about backchannel communication, Educause, February 2010

Is live tweeting disruptive to the classroom,, 19 January 2010

More than just passing notes in class: Reflections on the Twitter-enabled backchannel, Tony McNeill, 10 June 2009

Classroom Twitter, H Songhai, Songhai Concepts, 1 April 2009

So you want to micro-blog with your students, academHack, 21 May 2009

Online social networking on campus, Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 8 January 2009

Classroom2.0: Twitter, and participatory learning, Melanie McBride, 10 February 2008